Mobile internet usage in the United States - statistics & facts

The mobile revolution has visibly transformed the digital ecosystem in the United States. Over the past few decades, mobile devices have worked their way into the daily lives of millions of American consumers and become an essential tool for communication, information, and entertainment alike. Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity and affordability of web-enabled smartphones and tablets, the number of mobile internet users in the United States has steadily increased, reaching an all-time high of over 276 million users in 2021.

With U.S. mobile internet penetration rates rising every year, it comes as no surprise that almost 50 percent of total website traffic in the United States originated from mobile devices at the end of 2021. While the figure remains lower than at the beginning of 2020 due to the impact of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic on mobile internet usage, website traffic via mobile devices appeared to be experiencing a slow but constant growth throughout 2021.

Mobile usage trends in the United States

Like in many other developed countries, mobile ownership and internet usage are steadily increasing in the United States. According to recent data, U.S. adults spend an average of 263 minutes per day on mobile nonvoice activities, highlighting that smartphones and other portable devices are no longer primarily used to conduct phone calls but to access the internet.

Another visible trend in mobile user behavior is the preference for in-app experiences: Mobile apps amassed more than four hours of daily engagement from U.S. users in 2021, up by 27 percent compared to 2019. Among the millions of apps available in the Google Play and Apple App Store, internet browsers, e-mail services, and social media apps are among the most popular app categories in the United States. Correspondingly, YouTube and Facebook remain the leading smartphone apps based on mobile audience reach.

What are the most popular mobile activities in the United States?

In addition to audio entertainment, video games, and news consumption, social media is one of the most popular online activities among U.S. mobile users. Across the globe, social networks, messaging apps, and photo and video-sharing platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are among the leading drivers of mobile engagement. In 2021, some 233 million social network users in the United States accessed social media via mobile devices, and this number is forecast to increase in the future.

The rapid uptick in smartphone and tablet usage is also transforming online media consumption: In North America, mobile devices have become the most-used streaming devices for online video content, surpassing Smart TVs and laptops. U.S. consumers are also shopping and paying with their mobile devices more than ever, thanks to the abundance of shopping apps and mobile banking services. In early 2021, the average value of mobile shopping orders amounted to 134 U.S. dollars, up from the 95 U.S. dollars consumers spent on average per order during the previous year.

From Snapchat to TikTok: social media on mobile-first

As of June 2021, almost 70 percent of Facebook users in the United States accessed the platform exclusively via their mobile devices, while users visiting the platform via both phones and computers were less than 30 percent. Despite the ongoing popularity of Meta products especially among U.S. mobile users aged 26 or older, mobile-first social media platforms like Snapchat and video app TikTok are experiencing ever-growing popularity, especially with younger users. In 2020, Snapchat counted 38 million Gen Z users in the country, while audience from the same demographic on TikTok is projected to increase to 37.3 million is 2021, overtaking Instagram.

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